## How can Relativity be both true and false at the same time?

Not quite philosophy discussions, debates, various thought experiments and other topics of interest.

### How can Relativity be both true and false at the same time?

How can Relativity be both true and false at the same time?

(Special) Relativity is very much counter-intuitive, and it is hard for people who just got acquainted with it to accept its seeming illogic logic.
I am one of those people. I still find Relativity a monstrosity as far as intuitive logic is concerned.

But we can ask ourselves, how can such a monstrosity be so successful? How can it convince so many intelligent people of its validity, and at the same time oppose our deepest intuitions?

Is the universe then so irrational that we have to abandon our intuitive logic to understand it?

That was Bohr's position, and even though Einstein refused to follow him in this special brand of mysticism, it was Einstein who flooded the gates open.

The purpose of this thread is to propose a way out of this conundrum: to accept Einstein's (Special) Relativity, and at the same time reaffirm the preponderance of our everyday logic.

I would like to start with a very familiar argument, the constant speed of light and its paradoxes.

In its simplest form it concerns the case of two ships flying in opposite direction at a speed (or velocity) close to c. Our logic tells us that they would be separating at a speed equal to the sum of both their speeds.
SR tells us that each will measure the speed of light as being no more than c.

Quite a conundrum, isn't it?

There is a very simple answer to this problem though, even if it flies at the face of scientific orthodoxy as defined by 20th century Physics.

If we consider light as a local phenomenon, as I have argued in another thread, then logic can be rescued from the irrational explanations quantic and relativist theorists are so fond of.

As an effect of em waves, light, in any setting can never go faster than c.

It does not matter whether we take one long train or two ships moving in opposite direction, any em wave in any frame of reference will create light effects that can only go as fast or slower than c.

Of course, once we have done that, we must abandon all the cosmological pretensions that follow from the idea of a mysterious universal constant.

What we are saying in fact is simply that em waves cannot make matter light up any faster than c, wherever that matter is.

Quite a let down, wouldn't you say?
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Odal » October 22nd, 2017, 6:19 pm wrote:How can Relativity be both true and false at the same time?

(Special) Relativity is very much counter-intuitive, and it is hard for people who just got acquainted with it to accept its seeming illogic logic.
I am one of those people. I still find Relativity a monstrosity as far as intuitive logic is concerned.

But we can ask ourselves, how can such a monstrosity be so successful? How can it convince so many intelligent people of its validity, and at the same time oppose our deepest intuitions?

Is the universe then so irrational that we have to abandon our intuitive logic to understand it?

Often what a child thinks rationality consists of is wrong. Relativity is not irrational at all -- quite the contrary. You are equating rationality with the common sense rules of everyday experience. Relativity does not even disagree with these rules within the boundaries of what we actually experience. The problem comes from extending these rules beyond what we experience everyday and thus outside the limits for which they are valid. Thus it is much like a child assuming everything operates according to the small portion of the universe which he experiences, then having to open up his mind to the fact that there are other families, other cultures, other nations, and possibly other worlds which operate according to a different set of rules.

Odal » October 22nd, 2017, 6:19 pm wrote:That was Bohr's position, and even though Einstein refused to follow him in this special brand of mysticism, it was Einstein who flooded the gates open.

The purpose of this thread is to propose a way out of this conundrum: to accept Einstein's (Special) Relativity, and at the same time reaffirm the preponderance of our everyday logic.

I would like to start with a very familiar argument, the constant speed of light and its paradoxes.

In its simplest form it concerns the case of two ships flying in opposite direction at a speed (or velocity) close to c. Our logic tells us that they would be separating at a speed equal to the sum of both their speeds.
SR tells us that each will measure the speed of light as being no more than c.

Quite a conundrum, isn't it?

There is a very simple answer to this problem though, even if it flies at the face of scientific orthodoxy as defined by 20th century Physics.

If we consider light as a local phenomenon, as I have argued in another thread, then logic can be rescued from the irrational explanations quantic and relativist theorists are so fond of.

As an effect of em waves, light, in any setting can never go faster than c.

It does not matter whether we take one long train or two ships moving in opposite direction, any em wave in any frame of reference will create light effects that can only go as fast or slower than c.

Of course, once we have done that, we must abandon all the cosmological pretensions that follow from the idea of a mysterious universal constant.

What we are saying in fact is simply that em waves cannot make matter light up any faster than c, wherever that matter is.

Quite a let down, wouldn't you say?

Relativity is not really about light and electromagnetic rays but about the very structure of space-time itself. The constant c is not a speed limit -- that is a common misconception. You can go anywhere as fast as you would like. The limitation is more one of not being able to travel a distance in space with out traveling a distance in time as well. The result is that no matter how fast things travel away from you and no matter how quickly they reach there destination, you will never see them travel faster than the speed of light and for you watching their journey takes a great deal more time.

The picture of the universe as being like a movie with a bunch of 3d snapshots strung together turns out to be wrong on scales where it takes significant time for light to travel from one place to another. The present moment at a star 4 light years away is a period of time 8 years long (+/- 4 years) -- that is. Because of relativity, all times within that period are equally the present. So even if someone goes there so fast that it only takes them a couple of seconds to get there, they will still arrive there in the future not the present and thus after the end of that 8 year period (4 years later for those watching back here on earth). This is a matter of 4 dimensional geometry (which is admittedly difficult to wrap non-mathematical heads around), for it seems there is more than one way to put those four dimensions together. Our universe is put together in the Minkowsky way (which puts time in differently than space) rather than the Euclidean way (represented by the movie with 3d snapshots strung together).

For the mathematical mind this is all perfectly rational. Quantum physics, however, is another matter. That one seems to defy the very logic of scientific inquiry itself.

mitchellmckain
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Odal » 23 Oct 2017, 01:19 wrote:But we can ask ourselves, how can such a monstrosity be so successful? How can it convince so many intelligent people of its validity, and at the same time oppose our deepest intuitions?

I agree with you that relativity is "monstrously successful". At the same time "our deepest intuitions" are "monstrous failures", scientifically spoken.

Is the universe then so irrational that we have to abandon our intuitive logic to understand it?

No, it is perfectly rational once you have studied it properly. And as Ralfcis found out, if one fails the first step (the relativity of simultaneity), or only superficially understands it, the rest is one uphill battle.

The purpose of this thread is to propose a way out of this conundrum: to accept Einstein's (Special) Relativity, and at the same time reaffirm the preponderance of our everyday logic.

My guess is that you will end up concluding: now that I properly understand simultaneity and the deeper issues around it, relativity is just everyday logic.

BurtJordaan
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

It is completely legitimate for people to (re)affirm their allegiance to a theory, but that is not in itself an argument.

My position is that Einstein was right in concluding that in each frame of reference the speed of light remains constant. What he overlooked was the fact that light is a local effect, and that is what explains his conclusions.

People who do not agree with me will have hopefully more to say than repeating what can be found in any textbook.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

I still can't see what your theory is, given that it's unclear what you mean by "light is a local effect."

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Braininvat » October 23rd, 2017, 2:47 pm wrote:I still can't see what your theory is, given that it's unclear what you mean by "light is a local effect."

I may be wrong of course, but I have the strong impression that you do not understand it because you find it highly implausible.
The expression "local effect" is, to me at least, quite self-explanatory.

Imagine directing an electric torch forward, wherever the em wave hits matter, it lights up. That is particularly evident in the video clips presented by the M.I.T team

Light becomes visible when em waves reach an object or a particle. It is in this sense a local effect. There is no light unless em waves meet matter. The expression that light itself is an em wave is I think confusing and the origin of many misunderstandings and far-fetched theories.
Odal
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

I may be wrong of course, but I have the strong impression that you do not understand it because you find it highly implausible.
The expression "local effect" is, to me at least, quite self-explanatory.

In science, you are probably aware that requests for clarification are essential to communication on abstruse subjects. It's important to honor those requests without speculating on the asker's motivation overly much, being mindful that any idiosyncratic usage, while it may be "quite self-explanatory" in your mind, may not be so to others.

You describe absorption (the event you example) as being "local," but that is only part of a full account of a photon's existence. There is also emission from a source, generally from the quantum jump of an electron from a higher energy level to a lower one. And there is also the propagation over the gap that separates the emitter and the absorber. The universe, from all our observations and experiments, appears to have a "clock speed" at which events take place, and this clock speed is represented by the constant, c.

Within my own inertial frame of reference, this clock speed will manifest in mass-less force-carrying particles (aka bosons) as the constant rate (in a given medium, let's say vacuum) at which such a particle changes spatial position. Hence, the very accurate and consistent measurements of the speed of light.

In physics, "local" has a specific meaning -- the principle of locality states that an object is only directly influenced by its immediate surroundings. A theory which includes the principle of locality is said to be a "local theory". This is an alternative to the older (Newtonian physics) concept of instantaneous "action at a distance". So, for light to be local, it has to be emitted, propagated through space, and then absorbed. Mountains of evidence support this picture.

In quantum mechanics, the principle of locality is violated, when particle pairs are said to be "entangled," but this does not permit information to be transmitted about the state of a particle faster than c. The speed of information still holds, even if certain effects are known to be nonlocal. That's a whole other thread, or bundle of threads (really, it's a freaking sweater!), and the search function will find many threads here at SPCF on nonlocality.

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

@Braininvat

I am afraid all your remarks only make sense within the confines of a theory in which light is itself an em wave. I could not therefore accept, nor reject, all your assumptions or affirmations.

I cannot prove that light is a "local" phenomenon in the trivial sense. For that I would like to refer to the experiment I have proposed in my other thread : Is light an em wave?

There I argue that it should be possible to empirically answer this question rather definitively.

It would look, briefly sketched, like this.

1 Using femtographic methods, a pulse of light, therefore an em wave, is turned on for a short time (a few nano or even picoseconds).
2 After the pulse has stopped emitting, sensors placed at a distance and a location the pulse will hit, and not simply pass by, are turned on.

Please remember that we are talking about femtoseconds. The sensors will be placed far enough that the em wave will not reach them before the pulse has stopped emitting.

I see only two possibilities:
3 a light is registered at the location it would have appeared to a human observer.
4 no light is registered.

In the first case that would reinforce the conception of light as itself being an em wave, since it would be registered after the pulse would have stopped emitting.
In the second case, it would confirm my prediction that no light would be registered since the pulse had stopped emitting before the sensors were turned on.

There is at least one pitfall, which is I think easily recognizable.

5 the em wave could by itself create a light effect on the sensors. We should therefore have the possibility to distinguish between the original light as created by the pulse while it was emitting, and the second effect created by the em wave when it hit the sensors.
I think such a pitfall could easily be avoided.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Odal » 23 Oct 2017, 16:08 wrote:Light becomes visible when em waves reach an object or a particle. It is in this sense a local effect. There is no light unless em waves meet matter. The expression that light itself is an em wave is I think confusing and the origin of many misunderstandings and far-fetched theories.

It seems that you have your own 'personal definition' of what light is. Science has an exact definition of what we mean by 'light' and its various phenomena. The simplest definition that I could find is here.

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

@Braininvat

I would like to add that I do not have a full-fledged theory. There are many questions which I am sure I still have no answer for. That is why I will concentrate for the time being on the question whether light is itself an em wave.

Your definition is exactly what I am putting to the question.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

@BurtJordaan

You are falling back on the authority of the contemporary conception of light. That is much too easy. The point of discussion is in fact whether this theory is itself valid, You cannot therefore use it as an argument.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Well Odal, we have an argument that stood the test of time (a century, at least). You seem to have no argument at all...

BurtJordaan
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

I have asked Ramesh Raskar of M.I.T if he would be willing to perform such an experiment, but I did not get any response. Which shouldn't be too surprising since I am unknown academically. Maybe one of the resident experts of this site would have more luck.

BurtJordaan on October 23rd, 2017, 6:27 pm

"Well Odal, we have an argument that stood the test of time (a century, at least). You seem to have no argument at all..."

That didn't seem to be the opinion of the other members of your team. Here is a full copy of their decision regarding the blocking of my other thread:

Re: Board warning issued
Sent: October 23rd, 2017, 6:04 am
From: BurtJordaan
To: Odal

The decision was to open the locked thread again under the conditions that replies are kept courteous and to the point. Give reputable references when technical claims are made.

Please post your proposal for the test to demonstrate that light is not an e.m. wave.

Apparently you have chosen to leave this last part out by the reopening of the thread.
I wonder why.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Very simple, Odal. I wanted to give you fair chance before you might face a ban from this forum.

In case you are still wondering, scientists normally do not waste time and money on senseless experiments.

BurtJordaan
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

BurtJordaan » October 23rd, 2017, 6:58 pm wrote:Very simple, Odal. I wanted to give you fair chance before you might face a ban from this forum.

In case you are still wondering, scientists normally do not waste time and money on senseless experiments.

May I point out that the requirement of courtesy also applies to you. You have not presented a single argument and your comments are more demeaning and insulting than anything else.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

BurtJordaan » October 23rd, 2017, 10:07 am wrote:
Odal » 23 Oct 2017, 16:08 wrote:Light becomes visible when em waves reach an object or a particle. It is in this sense a local effect. There is no light unless em waves meet matter. The expression that light itself is an em wave is I think confusing and the origin of many misunderstandings and far-fetched theories.

It seems that you have your own 'personal definition' of what light is. Science has an exact definition of what we mean by 'light' and its various phenomena. The simplest definition that I could find is here.

Want to make clear I did NOT post the text in the box which has been attributed to me. Jorrie, could you fix the quote boxes to show that Odal posted the text? I am a humble resident member now, and lack admin powers. :-)

[Fixed in both posts, I hope - Jorrie]

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

The discussion has degenerated somewhat, but i am still waiting for arguments that show that the experiment I propose is senseless.
Since it concerns a practical experiment I will understand "senseless" to mean one of the following:
1 it has already been done. In which case references or links would be very much appreciated.
2 it cannot be done because of practical considerations.
3 it shouldn't be done because we already know the results.

The third option is very difficult to disprove since it assumes that which has to be investigated.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Odal » 24 Oct 2017, 14:57 wrote:Since it concerns a practical experiment I will understand "senseless" to mean one of the following:
1 it has already been done. In which case references or links would be very much appreciated.
2 it cannot be done because of practical considerations.
3 it shouldn't be done because we already know the results.

I would say none of the three. In physics, a 'senseless experiment' would be one for which no consistent theory exists that predicts what the outcome would be.

More than a century of experimenting, using Maxwell's theory, gives us extreme confidence that it is correct. And it contradicts your view.

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

I beg to differ. The ether was considered as beyond doubt for more than 300 years. The sun, and everything else, was thought to revolve around Earth for thousands of years.
Your statement is more religious than scientific.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Odal, I think I have asked you before: exactly what is the theory that you want your experiment to test?

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

This could be my Poisson moment.
I do not believe in the theory of the dual nature of light but my experiment could prove me definitely and definitively wrong.
After all, as I said, if a light is perceived after the pulse has stopped emitting, that would be an absolute proof in my eyes that light travels through space, and not only em waves.

If that still does not answer your question then I will say it explicitly: it will prove or disprove that light itself is an em wave.

So, no, I am not testing any new theory.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

So you want a scientific test of a believe? Actually, a rather absurd believe... Good luck!

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

I think you are deliberately avoiding the issue: my experiment in itself already proves one thing which you apparently have great difficulty accepting.
It is not proven that light is an em wave. It has always been implicitly assumed.
If you can show that that is not the case, that there is indeed a proof of this "belief", then my experiment would be superfluous.
That would be option 1 in one of my previous posts.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Odal » 24 Oct 2017, 18:39 wrote:It is not proven that light is an em wave. It has always been implicitly assumed.
If you can show that that is not the case, that there is indeed a proof of this "belief", then my experiment would be superfluous.

There exist an extraordinary array of past experiments that I can quote, which test parts of your premises, but most need scientific interpretation, and I do not have the time available for that. I have already mentioned this one, but here is a link and a short quote that rubbish your idea that the propagation of light (or the end effect) disappears when the light pulse ends.

The Basics of Lunar Ranging wrote:How do we measure the distance to the moon to such phenomenal precision? We "ping" the moon with ultra-short pulses of light. To do this, we have a laser that generates intense bursts of light only 100 picoseconds long—that's one tenth of a billionth of a second! Light, which travels 7 earth circumferences every second, only travels about an inch in this time. So these pulses are like little "bullets" of light.

Do read the whole article for better comprehension. The same thing has been done with radar, but it is not accurate enough for the purpose of the experiment, because it uses e.m. waves of longer wavelength than light and hence need longer pulses.

I now want to repeat: unless you can come up with a scientific reason why you have this 'believe' that light is not an e.m. wave phenomenon, this thread will be done and will be closed.

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

Odal,

It seems to me that your frustrations with BurtJordaan stem from a possible unfamiliarity with how the scientific investigation is carried out vis-a-vis the scientific method. You either present evidence refuting a hypothesis, or you propose a testable hypothesis along with the experimental design to test it (or, more accurately, to reject its corresponding null hypothesis). BurtJordaan is trying to get you to understand this, because anything else would not be relevant to the science forum. He's correct in his approach and if you do not wish to oblige him, maybe you can have this discussion your way outside of the science section.

This might help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

a Feel free to transfer this thread to any other section you think would be more appropriate.
b I am not advocating a new theory.
c I have presented a hypothesis which can be drawn from an existing theory: light is (or is not) an em wave.
d and an experiment to (dis)prove it.

I don't think my method is anything but scientific, or at least rational.

Suggestions to ameliorate the formulation of my hypothesis and the setup of the experiment are more than welcome.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

@BurtJordaan
Your example is the same as the Levitating Diamonds. It can also prove that em waves simply have light effects, but not that light is itself an em wave.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

@ The moderators
thank you for the transfer. Let us hope now that people will feel less threatened in their scientific beliefs, and will be more inclined to discuss the issue dispassionately.
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

OK, it is now under Odds & Ends. So feel free to describe your experiment in the required detail. You are at least now free from strict scientific scrutiny.

BurtJordaan
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### Re: How can Relativity be both true and false at the same ti

no, i am free from bigotry.
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